When scammers call

Phone and email scams are among the new ways scam artists defraud people. Phone scams can be run through callers claiming to be an agency such as the police or the IRS, police Sgt. Dean Peterson said.

Alumnus Chirag Waghela received 10 to 15 calls within a few months, claiming he owned a 2014 Hyundai and needed to renew the warranty.

The only problem: Waghela doesn’t own a car.

Waghela said he doesn’t block numbers, because scammers mainly call from different numbers anyway.

After telling them multiple times to stop calling, eventually they stopped. He hasn’t heard back for about two months.

Scam artists are finding new ways to defraud people. However, the UTA Police Department tracks and investigates potential scams to keep on top of crime and prevent it.

Scammers are active year-round, and students should be suspicious to protect themselves, police Sgt. Dean Peterson said.

Peterson said several cases of email and phone scams have happened in the past. One prevalent fraud is when an impostor calls someone, claiming to be an authority, like the IRS or a police agency.

He said scammers usually claim the target is in trouble and must pay money to resolve the issue. The deceiver will often ask for a prepaid credit or gift card as payment, because they’re more expedient than credit cards and are typically easy for college students to obtain, Peterson said.

Peterson said if the student is convinced they may be in trouble, hang up and call the agency the caller claims to represent. Scammers often make the phone number look like a legitimate government agency, Peterson said.

He said not to make any payment over the phone and to automatically be suspicious of someone who claims to be an official, as most government agencies rarely contact people via phone.

Finance senior Suzanne Truong said she gets some suspicious calls and emails. She said emails generally go in her spam or trash folders, so she doesn’t pay attention to them.

For calls, she hangs up and blocks the number, which works for her.

Peterson said the department has a big focus on crime prevention.

“How do we prevent things from happening in the first place?” Peterson said. “How we do that is to push out information like the bulletin we pushed out in late June.”

Peterson said they work with both local and federal agencies to prevent crime. He said a few weeks ago, the FBI sent a bulletin about a potential scam.

The scam involved someone claiming to be another student who lost their identification and would ask a student to show the bookstore theirs. The scammer would then use cloned credit cards until one worked and they could purchase something expensive.

Peterson said this scam has not been reported at UTA so far. One reason is because civilians report suspicious activities so law enforcement agencies can be on top of new potential crimes.

He said he recommends for anyone who gets a suspicious call to contact their local police agency and file a report. Even if the information may not warrant an arrest, it could be crucial to help agencies better protect their citizens.

Peterson said the department is always operational and looking out for students. However, students can help by reporting these activities to the department instead of ignoring them.

It’s hard for them to help students if they don’t know something is happening, Peterson said.

@FornariLoL

news-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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